10/12/07 2:30 AM ET
Webb feeling unlucky in defeat
D-backs ace not hit hard, but takes loss in NLCS opener
By Jenifer Langosch / MLB.com
But don't mistake that for believing that Webb was hit hard, because, quite frankly, he wasn't.
Not about to blame the D-backs' 5-1, Game 1 NLCS loss on Thursday on rustiness, Webb, who had not pitched in over a week, conceded his defeat to the simple, yet always effective, tactic of the Rockies ability to hit pitches to where the D-backs weren't.
"They had some good luck on their side, because they didn't hit too many hard," said Webb, who didn't allow an extra-base hit in his six innings of work. "But give them credit for putting the ball in play and hitting it where we weren't. There was nothing I could do about it."
He watched Colorado second baseman Kaz Matsui fight off a pitch on the inside corner of the plate in the third that drove home the first of what would be three Rockies runs that inning. One pitch later, Webb saw Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday knock a squibbler down the third-base line that ate up chalk until it hit third base.
Balls weren't being hit hard. But they were being placed with cruel precision if you were watching from the D-backs dugout.
And by the end of the inning, Webb watched four well-placed singles and a walk translate into a three-run Arizona deficit.
"I was making good pitches I felt like tonight, and they were just getting the hits when they needed them, and strung a bunch of them together in that one inning," Webb said afterward. "Basically that was the game."
Regardless of the method the Rockies used to score, the end result was frustratingly the same for Webb, who has been bitten by Colorado consistently this season. Webb has 11 losses on the season; four have now come against the Rockies. His 5.80 ERA against Colorado is higher than Webb's ERA against any other club.
"It's nice to have success against somebody as good as that," said Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe, whose two third-inning RBIs gave him 13 against Webb this season. "It's not like it's 500 at-bats or something. Still, whatever success it is, it's nice to have."
Added Matt Holliday: "You can't expect to hit home runs and doubles off Brandon Webb to score your runs. You [have to] fight for them."
The Rockies showed an uncanny ability to do just that, maximizing their chances by practicing impressive plate discipline and making sure to cash in when Webb cracked the door just slightly.
"They battled him pretty hard," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "[They] didn't square him up all over the place, but did enough to put us in the position where [Jeff] Francis had a lead. They battled harder and played better than we did today."
For Webb, the loss snapped a personal five-game win streak dating back to Sept. 2. More concerning, however, would be the fact that the D-backs weren't able to seal a win with their ace on the mound, though his teammates were hesitant to characterize the loss as too big a setback.
"You always want to get a win when your ace is on the mound," said D-backs first baseman Conor Jackson. "But on the other hand, we can't sit and worry about it not happening."
Hopeful that his team extends the series to a minimum of five games, Webb will get another chance at battling this Rockies offense. Pitch efficiency and using his fastball to get into a pitcher's count, two areas that could be attributed to the week-long layoff, will be targeted for improvement.
Because he needed 49 pitches to make it through the second and third innings, Webb had to exit after just six. In just three of his past 15 starts had Webb not pitched into the seventh inning.
Otherwise, as Webb stood in front of his locker in the D-backs clubhouse, he appeared composed, convinced that the Rockies' success was a product of timely hitting more so than ineffective pitching. All he wants is another shot.
"I had good stuff, real good stuff, I thought," Webb said. "That's just tough luck, and there's really nothing you can do about it except tip your cap."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.